ILO closes workers' complaint against World Cup host Qatar
November 08 2017 07:15 PM
Overview taken during a meeting of the Governing Body on Qatar at the International Labor Organizati
Overview taken during a meeting of the Governing Body on Qatar at the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva


The International Organization for Labour closed a complaint by workers against Qatar on Wednesday after the government introduced legislation to protect workers and pledged further reforms as well as technical cooperation with the UN agency.

The unanimous decision, taken by the ILO's Governing Body after a 45-minute meeting in Geneva, means it will not set up an ILO commission of inquiry into alleged exploitation in the 2022 World Cup host, a rare sanction.

Qatar signed 36 worker protection agreements with countries that provide much of its labour force, state media reported on Oct 25, weeks before the ILO meeting to decide whether to investigate it for worker abuse.

Qatar's labour minister Issa bin Saad Al Jafali Al Nuaimi, addressing the ILO forum, said that the government was working to achieve decent work conditions for domestic and migrant workers. It had established committees on labour disputes and was considering a minimum wage without discrimination.

"Qatar has set a new standard for the Gulf States, and this must be followed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE where millions of migrant workers are trapped in modern slavery," said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

‘Qatar will remain mindful to guaranteeing all rights of workers and to safeguard their interests,’ he said, adding that it was committed to a three-year programme of ILO technical cooperation.

Qatar is keen to show it is tackling allegations of worker exploitation as it prepares to host the 2022 soccer World Cup, which the Gulf Arab state has presented as a showcase of its progress and development.

In a statement after Wednesday's decision, the ILO said that the technical cooperation ‘will support the implementation of numerous measures adopted by the Government of Qatar to replace the kafala system with a contractual employment relation and to address passport confiscation, contract substitution, as well as restrictions on the ability of migrant workers to change employers and exit the country’.

Martha Newton, deputy under secretary for International labour Affairs in the US Department of labour, said the agreement had ‘the potential to bring significant and lasting reforms to labour relations in Qatar’.

Last updated: November 08 2017 07:26 PM

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